Poetry - July, 2009

Poetry

For they shall be comforted

This oak took its bad news to the heart.
Lightning struck two springs ago
as I snored between my flashing walls.

Now scallops of orange fungus layer
the fissured bark. Spider sacs trailing
ragged webs streak the splinters like comets.

I have lost someone. Her eyes flash
among the decaying leaves. I hear
her small hands fluttering in the creek.

Grieve me, she calls. Split your heart
with my face. There is nothing else
I can do. I pull up a broken branch. I sit.





Poetry

The pastor’s wife considers drought

Faux thunder haunts my incoherent garden.
My chervil withers. The lettuce bolts.
Only rosemary’s roots remember rain.

Out by the road I find a young possum—
swollen—the fire ants celebrating, while
under the live oak resurrection ferns tarry.

Must I weigh the excellence of weeds—
how they thrive in their congregation—
thistle, wire grass, groundsel, nettle?



Poetry

Sweet psalm

Good lost word, succor.
As an infant mouth pulls
sweet need from the breast.
Sucker: that child,
or a loser. Or a gull—
someone fooled. Gull’s
a sea grace too, a diving
shelter wing. Sucker:
sweet on a stick. Sticky.

Dive and warm me, sweet
Grace. Feed me, help me.
Don’t fool me, don’t lose me.
Be my succor. Stick to me.

Poetry

Now! Order your prepaid cremation!

I’ve seen the Kathmandu corpses,
garlanded with marigolds, burned
to a crisp, holy smoke sifting
across the river, censing the air for the tourists.
In Annapurna’s narrow lap this valley,
chock full of bones, is too cramped
for burials. Instead, the dead are loaded onto
burn piles stacked with logs from the foothills,
now naked and eroding, pillaged for ceremony,
death gathering to itself more death
up the slow gradient of necessity.
Mourners chant. Mortality teaches
our ears, eyes, noses as the little boats of
skeletal ash and charcoal are launched,
freed from the funeral ghats,
to drift downstream.

Urged now to weigh the manner of
my final dispersal, I’m not
averse to incineration. But I confess
this foolish comfort: to lie beside my husband
in our grave—a double bed we chose together—
the full, aged remnant of the body he loved,
knowing heaven can pull together
from earth or urn, from bones or ashes,
whatever is needed for what’s next.

Poetry

For they shall inherit the earth

The child who labored under the AK-47,
who bore its weight like a claw on his naked shoulder

and memorized the equation of trigger + blood = food,
cried out to Ludana and escaped to the darkening savannah.

He awoke on a carpet of acacia shadows. Above him,
the coral dawn shook out its feathers

and raptors began to ripple through the sky.
He spilled his heart out like water to the Lord.

And ants came to him, came by the thousands,
encircling his neck like a chain of glittering onyx.







Poetry

Hunger

Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.
Psalm 81:10 (KJV)

Don’t be afraid of your hunger.
I gave it for your fullness,
The cravings, the pinched gullet,
the corrosive wants, all
have come to serve you.
Don’t be afraid of the pablum,
the drivel in your diet, or the sharp
cactus burrs when you swallow.
Don’t be afraid even if you don’t
know you are hungry.